HOCKINSON — Paytin Ballard is a guard by nature — playing in the perimeter, passing and driving.
But at the behest of assistant coach Tanya Martin, Ballard got to show off her post game Tuesday for the Hudson’s Bay girls basketball team.
“I’ve always been more comfortable finishing and attacking,” the 5-foot-10 senior said. “And so our coach Tanya, she was like ‘I’m going to try you at high post and post.’ We don’t really have like bigs this year. So I was like ‘OK, I’ll just work with what you give him. So I just do what they need me to do.”
Ballard finished with a game-high 21 points, almost exclusively in the paint, to lead the Eagles to a 54-37 win over Hockinson in 2A Greater St. Helens League play.
Ballard and Aniyah Hampton combined for all Bay’s first-quarter points as the Eagles opened up a 21-4 early lead.
“As one of our bigger players, Paytin just works so well in the post,” Bay head coach Michael Rainville said. “And Aniyah is one of the best passers I’ve ever seen. She did a great job of feeding the ball into Paytin.”
Playing its second game in as many nights after not playing at all for almost three weeks, Hockinson again got off to a slow start.
But Kylie Ritter gave the Hawks a spark in the second quarter with 11 points, including two three-pointers that got Hockinson within six at 24-18.
Bay finished the quarter with five straight points to lead 29-18 at the half.
In the second half, the Eagles handled the Hawks’ defensive pressure better, and that allowed them to return to working the ball inside to Ballard and Mahaila Harrison, who had 13 of her 16 points in the second half.
“We really just wanted to focus on making that strong first pass, and being patient in our offense still,” Ballard said. “Doing those two things, once we got back our rhythm and stopped their momentum, things started to work in our favor.”
Bay never allowed Hockinson to get within single digits in the second half and ended up winning by the same 17-point margin the Eagles built after one quarter.
“Hockinson is a really good team,” Rainville said. “To hold them to 37 points, I was really pleased with our defense.”
Ritter hit two more three pointers in the second half to lead Hockinson (7-6, 4-2 2A GSHL) with 20 points. Hampton finished with 13 points for Bay (9-2, 7-1 2A GSHL).
The Eagles are starting to find their rhythm this season after postponements have led to a lot of starts and stops. Bay is slated to host first-place Washougal on Thursday.
“We’re just trying to play each game like it’s our last,” Ballard said. “Because we don’t when we’re going to be shut down, if we’re going to be shut down. I hope not. We’re just trying to play and give it our all.”